Excerpt from History of the Descendants of Peter Davis

Edited By

Lula Hunter Skillman




      Matthew Davis in his will leaves "to my daughter Elizabeth Davis Pitchford that land whereon she now lives." Elizabeth Davis married Stirling Pitchford. The home they lived in still stands today, and is known as the Pitchford Place. (It is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Otis Clark.)
      Originally the house was one very large room built high from the ground, with possibly a basement and perhaps a low-pitched room upstairs. At that period every home had a kitchen in the yard, and an office in the yard to accommodate the sons of the family and any gentleman guest. Elizabeth Pitchford's son Dr. Thomas Pitchford, greatly enlarged the house, and the original is now the back wing. The immense old room boasted a huge fireplace with a very high mantel that was long and narrow. So high was the mantel that about half-way between that and the fireplace was a smaller mantel shelf. This lower one found great favor in the sight of the young children of the household, according to the daughter, Mary Pitchford Egerton, who many years later told this story to her great niece, Carrie Pitchford. She told it to me.
      Her Mother had a bachelor brother who was vastly wealthy. He was known far and wide as "Rich Peter Davis."... Little Mary knew of her Uncle Peter as a most benevolent uncle. Now Mary loved her rag dolls, but she longed for a real "store bought doll" more than anything else on this earth. Mary wanted a French doll. So after much thought on the subject, she decided to try out the following scheme.
      Dressing all her rag dolls, she placed them on the lower mantel shelf. True to her expectations, it was not long after reaching there that her uncle asked, "Mary, do you have many dolls?"
      "Yes, Uncle Peter," said Mary, pointing to the dolls sitting along the low shelf. But all of them are rag dolls."
      "But you love them, even if they are rag dolls.".
      Mary nodded. Then thinking she must state her case a little better, she said in a most forlorn voice, "I do love them, but they are all rage dolls. I have never had a store bought doll in my life."
      Just at that time the men folk came up from the field, and her uncle went out to greet them.
      A lump welled up in little Mary's throat that would not go down for weeks. And then one day when the mail was brought, there was a long box for Mary. Much excitement and speculation were shown by the other children.
      Mary's fingers shook so she could scarcely untie the knot. But at last the box was opened, the tissue paper pulled back, and in the box lay the most beautiful French doll Mary has ever seen.
      Pinned to the doll's dress was a card. With a beautiful flourish that was so characteristic of that day, were quilled these words, "With love to Little Mary from her uncle, Peter Davis."


      A story that is a fitting sequel to the above has come down in the family. It was told to Florence May Egerton Underhill by Walter Egerton and written by Blanche Egerton Baker, all grandchildren of "Little Mary".
      When Mary was sixteen years old, she was married to Charles Jackson Egerton, who was eighteen. The young couple wanted to begin their married life on a farm. Perhaps encouraged by her childish efforts concerning the doll, Mary and her husband went to Uncle Peter and asked him to lend them the money to buy a farm. Quite willingly he did so.
      They bought a large tract of land about four miles south of Louisburg in Franklin County. They built a house that is still standing, and still known as the "Egerton Place." They lived there till Jackson Egerton died in 1880.
      Jackson and Mary were energetic and industrious. They had a heavy obligation and they must meet it. Every year they sent Uncle Peter a payment on the loan.
      At last came the great day when they could make the last payment. They took it to him, and to their astonishment made them a present of the full amount of the loan. He told them he had intended all the time to give them the farm, but thought they would care more for it if they earned it themselves.